Saturday, July 14, 2012

Food Safety

This week I ate nothing but food bank food. I feel pretty good. I didn't gain a tremendous amount of weight but I didn't lose any either. I had enough energy to get me through the day. All was going well until....


Well, Thursday, really. I had a sandwich for lunch that was donated from an event in town. It tasted pretty dang good but was a little on the "too warm for a chicken salad sandwich" side. I figured that it was just because it was hot out that day and was out of a fridge for 20min. Well.... I was wrong. And I paid for it the next day.

This brings me to the topic of the day and that is food safety.

PLEASE keep food at a safe temperature or you will suffer the consequences (and believe me, they ain't cute).

Cold food including raw meats, dairy, and left overs should be under 40 degrees until you want to cook them or consume them.

Hot foods like cooked meats, cooked dishes and soups and other hot things should stay above 140 degrees.

The middle 100 degrees is called THE DANGER ZONE! (bum bum bum!)

It's the temperature that bacteria grow at a rapid rate in. Bacteria (like E. coli and Salmonella) grow incredibly fast in the middle temperatures.

So how can we get our hot food (let's use beef stew as an example) to get from hot serving temperature to a cold refrigerated temperature safely? The answer is surface area. First you have to cool down until about the 140 mark so the stew a little so you don't melt your tupperware. Then pour it into a shallow, yet wide dish so it is spread out thin (you don't have to have it SUPER thin, but my rule of thumb is no thicker than 4in). If you have more stew than that, get more than one dish to put it in (or keep chowin' until you have enough room). Plastic gallon bags also work really well, you just have to make sure they are closed all the way or else you'll have a huge mess on your hands. Put it in the refrigerator and let it be.


Mix your cutting boards.

Cross contamination is a lovely way to get sick. So make sure you are switching cutting boards and knives after cutting up a chicken and then cutting up veggies for a salad. The chicken juice on the board and knife may get you to a serious level of ill. Make sure you clean all of your dishes and counters well, too.

Moral of the story, keep cold things cold and hot things hot. Keep everything clean and don't lick raw meat. Or you'll have a day like I had yesterday.

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